Editor's note: The Herald & Review each day is listing a reason the Decatur region is loved. We're profiling people, places and history that are special to our region — and that make it a great place to live. See more here.
DECATUR — It took a united effort in far-flung theaters of war and on the home front, but the "Greatest Generation" found in itself a steely resolve that achieved victory and peace in World War II.
Today, Decatur honors their achievements with a World War II Memorial in front of the Decatur Civic Center. It took the resolve of local veterans and community supporters and one in particular to make this monument a reality, to recall the sacrifices of so many who paid the ultimate price in every branch of service.
The black granite memorial, 48 feet in diameter and illuminated at night, contains the names of more than 300 Macon County military personnel, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, who were killed in World War II. The memorial is dedicated in their honor, along with the other members of the Greatest Generation who served in the military and those who supported them on the home front.
The memorial was the vision of E.E. “Pete” Nicholls, a World War II hero who conceived the idea more than 13 years ago. Nicholls worked tirelessly with Gordon Brenner, a Vietnam veteran, to help raise the funds. Nicholls died in 2008, but his leadership led to many others picking up the flag and carrying it to final victory for him and all veterans and their families. The committee was chaired by Pete Nicholls Jr. and David Freyling.
Graham Bradley, a retired Decatur architect, was the original memorial designer. The design was modified several times during the struggle to obtain a site and funds.
Visitors often can be found at the World War II Memorial, quietly scanning the text and contemplating the courage of those whose names are listed and those who sought to remember them.